Red Hat CEO: We're the cloud leader -- with Linux

Jim Whitehurst says it's not just Red Hat's products, but its philosophy that place it at the forefront of cloud computing

When you think about the leading cloud computing companies, does the name Red Hat spring to mind? Jim Whitehurst hopes it does. In fact, the CEO of the rapidly growing, Raleigh, NC-based, open source company, is doing everything in his power to ensure that Red Hat has the widest possible portfolio of tools for your private and hybrid cloud -- a collection of technologies that Whitehurst says is only rivaled by Microsoft (without the "walled garden" strategy, of course). In addition to Enterprise Linux -- the flagship product -- Red Hat's growing cloud stack includes tools for server and storage virtualization, management, security, and an "enterprise-ready" version of OpenStack.

In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Whitehurst talked with Chief Content Officer John Gallant about the changing competitive landscape in enterprise software and explained why VMware is now Red Hat's closest rival. He also talked about how Microsoft's transitions to the cloud and a new-generation operating system will benefit Red Hat. Whitehurst also explored why many IT leaders have a fundamentally flawed view of Red Hat's strategy and how his time as an executive with Delta Airlines made him a better tech company CEO.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Is OpenStack the new Linux? Early indicators are good. | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

IDGE: I think if you asked most people to describe Red Hat, they would probably say, "That's the Linux company." But how do you want CIOs or other technology leaders to describe Red Hat?

Whitehurst: In general, the next generation of IT architecture is being driven by open source -- by and in open source. Right? A whole series of companies are emerging, the Googles and Amazons and the Facebooks, who are driving this next-generation cloud architecture, and they're doing it all in open source.

Our job is to catalyze those communities and bring those same technologies that are being written by the largest IT users in the world to our enterprise customers, so they get the same value in their infrastructures. Yes, we offer specific products, but I think most importantly is the fact that our road map isn't driven just by our CTO. We don't ask our customers to trust that we're smart enough to know where the future of IT is going. What we ask our customers to believe is that sharing the same technology road map as the largest and most sophisticated IT companies in the world, we'll probably meet their needs as well.

IDGE: Let's continue on that. Looking at the portfolio that the company has and how successful you are right now, what would you want CIOs or other top technology executives to know about where you are today and Red Hat is going?

Whitehurst: I think Red Hat and Microsoft are the only two software companies that offer the full infrastructure stack that enterprises need for the next generation of computing, from the hypervisor to the operating system to the application infrastructure. They're obviously doing it in the Microsoft kind of walled garden, and we're doing it in an open way -- open both in terms of being open source, but open in the sense of our roadmap is being driven by a whole series of technology companies.

IDGE: I want to drill down into some specific competitive matchups in a moment and talk about some key areas like cloud and mobile. But staying at the high level for a little bit, earlier this year Red Hat went over the billion-dollar revenue mark. What do you think that says about Red Hat and about open source?

Whitehurst: Most important, I think the statement that that makes is we have clearly positioned Red Hat as a viable alternative and open source as a viable alternative to the traditional proprietary software stacks. Obviously we are there because we are [now] in mainstream companies. I think 80 percent of the Fortune 1000 are customers. We run the majority of the world's stock exchanges, actually over half the world's equity trades happen on top of Red Hat Linux. We positioned the company in open source and demonstrated that it can run the most mission-critical systems in the world.

I think a lot of people think of Linux as [just] cheaper. Right? It's probably not as good, but it's cheaper. But it's better and it's cheaper. When I say better, I know that's a judgment term, but companies are confidently running the most mission-critical possible systems, things they would never imagine running on Windows, they're running on Linux and oh, by the way, it's significantly cheaper too.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 1
Page 1 of 10
How to choose a low-code development platform